Tourism

Federal government relaxes JobKeeper eligibility requirements

The federal government has announced further changes to JobKeeper that will make it easier for organisations to qualify for the payment extension.

From 28 September 2020, businesses and not-for-profits seeking to claim the payment until 3 January 2021 will be required to re-assess their eligibility for the JobKeeper extension based on their turnover in the September quarter only.

Previously, the government was requiring businesses to prove whether they have experienced the requisite reduction in turnover in the June and September quarters to be eligible for JobKeeper in the December quarter.

The reference date for assessing which employees are eligible for the JobKeeper payment is now 1 July 2020 with effect from 3 August 2020.

The reference period for employees regarding their hours worked to determine their tier of payment will be the two fortnightly pay periods prior to 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020.

The period with the higher number of hours is to be used for employees who were eligible at 1 March 2020.

Businesses and not-for-profits will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant decline in turnover test in the December quarter to remain eligible for the JobKeeper payment in the March quarter next year.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the media this morning that the JobKeeper changes were made in response to the Stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne, and the wider restrictions across Victoria.

“The combined effect of the economic deterioration in Victoria, which will see more firms needing to rely on JobKeeper, and the changes we are making to the program, will see the cost of JobKeeper increase by around $15.6 billion,” he said, as reported by ABC News.

Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) welcomed the government’s JobKeeper changes, saying the amendments will ensure more workers remain gainfully employed throughout Australia’s hotels.

“TAA have continued to make the case to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Frydenberg that amendments to the scheme were necessary to ensure more businesses were eligible through what are clearly a highly volatile few months,” CEO Michael Johnson said.

“Today’s announced changes will increase the number of businesses who can access the scheme and keep their workforce engaged.”

“These are reasonably minor adjustments that will deliver major benefits and we commend the federal government for their ongoing agility in responding to COVID-19.

“We know that Australia’s accommodation industry has been one of the hardest-hit sectors as a result of the pandemic, and the next few months remain highly precarious.

“We will continue to work cooperatively and collaboratively with government to secure outcomes that keep hotels afloat and workers in gainful employment during this unprecedented crisis.”

Simon Westaway, executive director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council, said the JobKeeper changes will capture and target much-needed support to many more eligible tourism businesses across Victoria as well as other parts of the country.

“Whilst awaiting the full detail, we hope and anticipate many traditional and seasonal tourism businesses operating across northern Australia, not previously eligible for JobKeeper, will be far better placed to qualify for the program under future new eligibility criteria,” he said.

“Under the original JobKeeper, many of these northern Australian businesses were not eligible at its establishment, as most of their operations commence post 1 March for the dry season and employ a regular seasonal workforce. We hope and anticipate this anomaly will be addressed.”

[PLEASE NOTE: This story has been updated since publishing to include commentary from TAA and the ATIC.]


Featured image source: 9News.com.au

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